The Role Of Community Engagement And Outreach Librarians

Decent Essays

A major challenge in public librarianship and especially in the role of the community engagement or outreach librarian is relating to the populations you are trying to engage. Marissa Gehrke has a goal of bringing in more Spanish speakers into the library. However, not being a native Spanish speaker has proved difficult in reaching those communities, even though she has some level of Spanish speaking ability (personal communication, September 30, 2017). According to the ALA, 78% of libraries report that Spanish is the number one language to which they develop services for (2008). Although the ALA has put significant effort in recruiting racially and ethnically diverse libraries into the profession, the efforts have yet to create a …show more content…

Zimdars had to rely on volunteers to help her implement a summer program at the local elementary school. This proved to be very difficult because she was working with varying schedules and people who don’t have a financial incentive to be there. As wonderful as volunteers can be, it can also make programs more stressful for the librarians. Zimdars has since secured some grant funding to hire temporary employees for the summer to help with the program next summer (personal communication October 10, 2017). Another challenge of a community-led librarian is that they needn’t necessarily lbe professional librarians. (Stevenson & Domsy, 2016), Zimdars mentioned that oftentimes her role as outreach librarian looks more like a social worker (personal communication, October 10, 2017). Stevenson & Domsy also note “an ability to penetrate communities and work closely with vulnerable groups takes precedence over professional qualifications. This opens the door for the hiring of social workers and other professionals (or paraprofessionals) over librarians” (2016). As community needs change, the culture, roles, and skills of the librarian also changes. Several graduate students had expressed apprehension about the direction libraries are moving towards in the way of community engagement and outreach (Hawkins, October 7, 2017). This trend may deter certain

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